The Snow Queen. The lure of a magical Christmas awaits us, and many hope for a white Christmas, a winter wonderland where twinkling ice droplets festoon the trees, rooftops are iced with a dusting of snowflakes, and snow blankets the earth, muffling all sound, so that we are lulled into a land of enchantment, a land of dreams.
Snow takes us back to all the Christmases past of childhood, and to happy memories. To memories of waking up to crystal mosaics on the glass; the breath of The Snow Queen who visits us in our sleep. In my young adult book, I capture this frozen world and it is all the more seductive in modern times, with many places on the earth never experiencing snow now that the earth is warmer than in the days of old.
Writing “The Snow Queen” is something I dreamed of when, as a child, I read Hans Christian Andersen’s original tale.
And now this dream, this fairytale, has come true in what is my tenth year of writing professionally. I want to share with you the enchanted landscapes of my youth that inspired the settings for this tale.
London is at its most magical at Christmas, and I wanted to revisit some of my favorite places in my story.
My book features The Underground, a metaphor for the subconscious workings of Adam’s, (Kai in the original story,) mind as he is kidnapped by the seductive ice queen, and is swept away on a train, when he runs away from his home and family in pursuit of an ice butterfly that morphs into the evil queen. The Tate Gallery has always fascinated me, and I have spent hours researching paintings and the stories behind them. The notion that Bryony and Sean, the romantic protagonists in my tale, play “peek a boo” amongst the works of art was inspired by a romance in my own life, where my lover and I played hide and seek in the gallery.
My fairytale features Camden Lock and Chalk Farm, among my favorite haunts, especially to people-watch. The ever-changing skyline of London is fascinating to me, so I simply had to capture Richmond Park, and the view. As a young adult, I worked in London in a department store on Oxford St. The fabulous window displays I saw are imagined again in my story. London taxi cabs are iconic, and I just had to mention them.
The idea for the children’s home – a humble flat with wrap-around balconies in The East End – came from real life. My idea for The River was, of course, The Thames, and inspiration for the scene of the Frost Fair came from “Orlando” by Virginia Woolf. The idea for a Christmas market in London came from the real life Christmas Market in Bournemouth, where I used to live. I have lived and worked in St. Albans – a little town just north of London Town – a short journey by train from the capital. I worked as an estate agent there, and have fond memories of the place and the people.
I simply had to feature the Verulamium Park and the lake, and the little cobbled street that led to it from the town center. In winter, it was at its most enchanting, and I can still remember the ice-dancers, (Adam and the Snow Queen in my story,) and the halos of light that danced across the lake in the winter sunshine.
As a young woman, I went on holiday to Denmark, island hopping to take in all the beautiful scenery. It really is a fairytale land, and Egeskov castle and the folktale of the Wooden Man is part of the folklore.
Finland and Norway
The Snow Queen is, of course, an archetype for the remote terrible mother, “the ruler of the night and the aurora borealis, bringing cold and death to her life; giving antithesis to Mother Nature.” * footnote
The far-flung North, with its frozen beauty, beguiling landscape, – all the more luring because of its remoteness – seemed like the perfect backdrop for The Ice Palace and the natural home for a cold seductress, the Snow Queen. At the same time, the animals who inhabit The Snowlands suggest the potential for human warmth; for cooperation, for kindness, for compassion and for love. These attributes, after all, are what makes the world magical, and as Andersen himself suggested, life is a fairytale.
*Footnote: Quotation cited from Przekroj magazine.